The National Do Not Call Registry applies to any plan, program, or campaign to sell goods or services through interstate phone calls, including sellers who provide, offer to provide, or arrange to provide goods or services to consumers in exchange for payment. It does not apply, however, to calls from or on behalf of nonprofit organizations, political organizations and pollsters.
The National Do Not Call Registry was created by the FTC to offer consumers a choice regarding telemarketing calls. Once registered, a phone number will remain on the Do Not Call Registry for five years, unless the consumer chooses to take it off the registry or the phone number becomes disconnected. Telemarketers and sellers then have up to three months from the time a number was registered to remove it from their own lists.
Just days before it was scheduled to take effect, challenges by telemarketers resulted in two federal courts blocking the National Do Not Call Registry on jurisdictional and constitutional grounds. In response, Congress acted swiftly to enact legislation to rectify the jurisdictional matter, and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FTC can continue to operate the registry pending its review of the lower courtâ€™s ruling that the registry violates telemarketersâ€™ First Amendment rights.
As a result of this new law, businesses which follow up on referrals may be unknowingly making illegal phone calls. As a general rule of thumb, if a consumerâ€™s number is on the National Do Not Call Registry, written permission from the consumer is required before a seller may call that number despite referrals. An electronic signature or e-mail is an acceptable form of written permission.
Additionally, a business may follow up on a referral to another business because the National Do Not Call Registry only applies to personal phone numbers and do not cover business-to-business calls.
Lastly, even if a consumerâ€™s number is on the National Do Not Call Registry, a seller may call that consumer, if they have an established business relationship, for up to 18 months after the consumerâ€™s last purchase, delivery, or payment. A seller may also call a consumer for up to three months after the consumer makes an inquiry or submits an application to the company. â€“ By Lessing E. Gold and Frank Lin